We tend to be sappy romantics when it comes to marriage. Most of us love our spouse, and imagine being with them forever and ever, throughout all of eternity. So much so that even in death, our graves are often side by side, together.
When someone loses their parents or grandparents, we often console them about how they are going to heaven to be with their spouse. Ideas like this in our culture are common and pervasive.
I want to challenge these common ideas. How would it make you feel if I told you that no marriage lasts forever? Would that make you upset, or would you breathe a sigh of relief?
In today’s podcast, I look at Jesus’s teaching on the temporary nature of marriage, and how that should impact us in the here and now. So be sure to listen above to hear everything I have to say about marriage being a temporary thing!
Spoiler Alert: Marriage Isn’t Forever
It would probably be a shock to many to know that Jesus taught that marriage is but a temporary phenomena. Jesus taught (see Matthew 22:23-32) that in the world to come, in the resurrection of the dead, there will no longer be any marriage or giving in marriage. Instead, we’ll all be like the angels of heaven, Jesus taught.
In other words, Jesus taught, no marriage is truly forever. We are married till death. But not one second beyond that.
How does this make you feel? For me, this “hard saying” of Jesus has never stuck with me well. It’s one of the few sayings of Jesus where part of me wants to object to what Jesus says. And had I been in the crowd that day, I certainly would have.
That’s just my honest wrestling with the Bible. I’m not gonna lie, there are some things in the Bible I simply do not like. This is one of those things. That’s not to say I would ever contradict the teaching of Scripture or say the Bible got something wrong.
But I say this simply as a human who is being honest about their feelings and know what it means to wrestle with God. And God’s okay with our wrestling. He wants us to come to Him with our hearts open, and to not be afraid to have honest inquiry with God. Our faith isn’t a blind faith, nor is it one devoid of working through difficult emotions. Our faith is lived out in process, and that process means coming to terms with the things Jesus taught that just don’t make us always feel very comfortable.
Part of my difficulty with this passage is simply for the high esteem I’ve always had for marriage. Marriage can be one of the most beautiful things in the world. When you love, honor, and cherish your spouse, and are devoted to serving them in a lifetime of companionship, that’s one of the most beautiful things that can exist in this world.
God’s Purpose For Marriage: To Make God Known
It’s so beautiful that the Bible likens our marriage relationship to a picture of the intimate relationship that’s possible between us and God. The relationship between a man and woman in marriage teaches us how we can be one with God, and to live in selfless wholehearted devotion, in complete abandon. To know and be known.
That is, when marriage is done rightly.
But when it’s done wrongly, such as in abusive relationships, or where infidelity exists, or when marriage partners enter into destructive habits that hurt their relationship with each other. Such ultimately distorts our knowledge of God.
That’s why we must do all that we can to safeguard our marriages and to protect them, and to ensure they are relationships overflowing with love to one another. For when marriage is done rightly, the knowledge of God is proclaimed to all of creation. But when marriages are destroyed, all of creation suffers with it.
God’s Purpose For Marriage: To Fill The World
Additionally, Scripture teaches that marriage was given to mankind that we might be fruitful and multiply. Man was created alone when God created the world. Seeing that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, God created marriage so man wouldn’t be alone.
Instead God created women so man could be fruitful and multiply, so that we’d never be alone, and so that we could perpetually care for and tend to the world, as part of our calling to cultivate the world and turn all of it into a garden. And with the world currently having somewhere near 7 billion people in the world, we can definitely say we are well on our way to fulfilling this mandate.
So what does any of this have to do with eternal life? Why won’t our marriages persist forever and ever?
In the resurrection the purposes for marriage will have been fulfilled.
In eternity the world will no longer need marriage because the knowledge of God will not be a thing any of us lack or have to be taught. Our knowledge of God we be absolutely full. We will no longer need a visual aid to teach us what intimacy with God looks like.
Additionally, we know from the book of Revelation that an innumerable number of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue will exist. The world to come will have no shortage of people to provide companionship, or to cultivate the world for all eternity. As a result, there will no longer be a need for the birth of new people. There will be a sea of people.
Practical Application For The Here And Now
So, it’s nice to know all this theological theory. But what’s that got to do about life in the here and now? What practical application might we infer?
Let me first start by asking you a question you can ask yourself: How does it make you feel you won’t be married to your spouse for all eternity? Does that make you sorta upset? Or does that make you breathe a sigh of relief?
How you answer that inside might tell you where you are presently in your marriage relationship.
Do you feel relieved to know you won’t be married forever and ever? Like… “Whew… I really dodged a bullet on that one!”
Or does the idea upset you? Do you love your spouse with all your heart and can’t imagine a world where you aren’t together?
Or maybe the answer is a little of both? Maybe you have a decent marriage, but you know there are opportunities for real and meaningful work and growth? Better opportunities for you and your spouse to communicate with one another? To work on your romantic life? To not take one another for granted?
Also, for those of you are single, what sort of takeaway might we infer for you?
I think it reinforces the idea that while God celebrates marriage, that as wonderful and purposeful as marriage is in this world, marriage is ultimately a temporary thing that was never intended to survive death.
Singleness remains God’s ideal for creation, and as I talked about in a prior podcast, is something we should celebrate.
Adam was originally created as a single man. And this is ideal that will persist throughout all eternity, where we will forever be single, though, not alone.
So while it’s common for lifelong singles to feel like they are missing out on something by not getting married, the truth is marriage is but as temporary phenomenon in the grand scheme of things.
And if you live your entire life and never get married, you should never feel like you are missing out. For in all eternity, we will all be single, living in intimate union with none other than Jesus Christ. We will be His bride, and He shall be our husband. And we will never be alone.